Three Pac-12 women's soccer teams still alive in NCAA tournament

UCLA Athletics

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The first round of the 2013 Division 1 NCAA Women’s Soccer tournament kicked off last weekend with six Pac-12 teams playing first round games between Friday and Saturday. UCLA, Stanford and Washington State hosted games while Colorado, California and Utah traveled for their respective games. Just like 2012, half of the the Pac-12 teams advanced to the second round. UCLA and Stanford moved on as they did a year ago, while Colorado pulled off an upset at Denver to stay alive. California, Utah and Washington State all exited postseason play with tough losses over the weekend. California hung tough with Santa Clara, who was the fourth-seed in their bracket, keeping it at 1-1 in the second half before the Broncos scored a late goal to seal the victory. Utah, facing another fourth-seed in Texas A&M, battled as they have all season and took a 0-0 tie into overtime before the Aggies nabbed a golden goal in the first overtime to end an impressive season by the Utes. For the second-consecutive year, Washington State’s saw its postseason run end early on penalty kicks. The Cougars hosted the Fighting Illini of Illinois and battled to a 0-0 draw through two overtime periods before succumbing in the penalty kick do-or-die portion. It was a tough way to end arguably the best season in school history after capturing their highest Conference finish ever and collecting Pac-12 Player and Coach of the Year honors in senior midfielder Micaela Castain and second-year coach Keidance McAlpine. Looking forward, UCLA is hosting the second and third round at Drake Field on Friday and Sunday. Stanford will be taking on South Carolina at the home of the Bruins on Friday night at 5 p.m., followed by a 7:30 p.m. matchup between UCLA and Kentucky. Colorado will travel to the home of the Florida State Seminoles to face BYU at 4:30 p.m. ET on Thursday. 

AROUND THE LEAGUE

NCAA Tournament Legacy: The Pac-12 has placed at least one team in the College Cup each of the last ten seasons (since 2003) and has produced two semifinalists on four occasions. The Conference has been represented in four of the last six National Championship games, with USC and Stanford taking home titles in 2007 and 2011 respectively. When it comes to tournament time, Stanford as been the Conference darlings, making five straight College Cup appearances, finishing as the NCAA runner-up in 2009 and 2010 before winning their championship in 2011. UCLA and Stanford will be making their Conference-best 16th straight postseason tournament appearances, while Stanford has the Conference lead as it makes its 22nd overall appearance in 2013.

Keep Streaking: UCLA is looking to continue its winning streak all the way to the College Cup. Since the Bruins lost to defending national champions and then-No. 1 North Carolina in early September, they have gone unbeaten through 16 games, winning 14 of them. The Bruins are currently ranked No. 2 and are a second-seed in their bracket, hosting second and third round games on Friday and Sunday.

Postseason Return Success: After returning to the postseason for the first time since 2008, the Buffs captured an opening round win for the first time since 2007. Playing at No. 15 Denver, the fourth-seed in their side of the bracket, Colorado looked to redeem a 3-0 loss they suffered against the Pioneers earlier in the season in Boulder. After a defensive battle for 80 plus minutes, second team All-Pac-12 performer and senior forward Anne Stuller netted the game-winner with less than seven minutes remaining in regulation. The Buffs were one of only two teams to knock off seeded opponents in the first round as St. Johns took down three-seeded UCF.

Potential Pac-12 Matchup: For the second-consecutive year, the road to College Cup for UCLA and Stanford runs through each other. Last year a College Cup berth was on the line as they faced off in the Quarterfinals. The Cardinal came out on top in that contest, topping the Bruins 2-1. Overall the two schools have met three times in the tournament (2009 semifinals, 2010 third round & 2012 quarterfinals) with Stanford winning all three. When the teams played earlier this season, Stanford scored in the last few minutes to send the match into overtime, but UCLA prevailed in the extra time on a golden goal by All-Freshman performing forward Lauren Kaskie.

UPCOMING GAMES (NCAA Second & Third Rounds)

Thursday, November 21
BYU vs. Colorado^, 4:30 p.m. ET
 
Friday, November 22
South Carolina vs. Stanford*, 5 p.m. PT
Kentucky at (2)UCLA*, 7:30 p.m. PT
 
Sunday, November 24
South Carolina/Stanford vs. (2)UCLA/Kentucky*, 4 p.m. PT
BYU/Colorado vs. Florida State/Mississippi^, 12 p.m. ET
 
^Florida State hosted site; Seminole Soccer Complex
*UCLA hosted site; Drake Stadium.
 
GAME PREVIEWS
 
Colorado vs. No. 18/19 BYU
Thursday, Nov. 21 4:30 p.m. ET
Seminole Soccer Complex, Tallahassee, Fla. 
-COLORADO (13-6-2) received an at-large bid for the Pac-12 after finishing tied for sixth in the final regular season standings. This is the programs seventh overall NCAA appearance and first since 2008. The Buffs' 1-0 upset win over Denver in the first round propelled them to the next round.
-BYU (15-4-1) won their first round game 4-0 over Weber State and they haven’t lost in eight games. They hold a 3-0-1 series lead over the Buffs, with the most recent time ending in a 0-0 double overtime draw. The one other time they met the tournament was in 2003 when the Cougars upset No. 11 Colorado in the Buffs’ first ever NCAA appearance.
 
No. 13/17 Stanford vs. No. 14/20 South Carolina
Friday, Nov. 22 5 p.m. PT
Drake Field, Los Angeles, Calif. 
-STANFORD (14-5-1) earned an at-large bid after a fourth place Pac-12 finish. This is the program’s 16th-straight and 22nd overall appearance in the NCAA Tournament. The Cardinal won their first round game 1-0 over Cal State Fullerton.
-South Carolina (17-3-2) defeated Furman in their first round game on Friday 5-0. The Cardinal and Gamecocks meet for the second time in three years in the NCAA second round. Stanford won the 2011 second round matchup 2-0 on its run to the the National Championship that year. The Gamecocks finished third in the Southeastern Conference and advanced to the SEC tournament semifinals, losing to eventual champion Texas A&M.
 
No. 2 UCLA vs. Kentucky
Friday, Nov. 22 7:30 p.m. PT
Drake Field, Los Angeles, Calif. 
-UCLA (18-1-2) is one of four No. 2 seeds after finishing the regular season unbeaten in Conference play to win its 11th Pac-12 title and first since 2008. This is the program’s 16th straight and 18th all-time appearance in the tournament. UCLA took care of San Diego State 3-0 at home in their opening round game.
-Kentucky (14-6-1) took down Ohio State 3-1 in their opening round game. The Bruins and Wildcats willl meet in the second-straight year and second time ever in the NCAA tournament. Last year the Bruins toppled the Wildcats 5-0. 
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